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The first sight of Lobouje

Thu 28 Oct 2010 11:01 » Jon

After days avoiding the crowds, we were back on the Everest Base Camp trail this morning, and I realised how lucky we’ve been the last few days. We’ve paused for lunch in Dughla, a settlement which consists simply of two lodges, feeding about six million trekkers (Acute Mountain Snobbery again).

The route from Dingboche to Dughla took us over the shoulder of the ridge that comes off Pokalde, separating the Imja Khola valley (where we’ve been for the last week or so) from the Lobouje Khola (which leads up to the Khumbu Glacier and Everest Base Camp). As we reached the top of the ridge we passed a little stupa and had our last look back at Island Peak. Someone commented that we could see Lobouje East up the other valley, but I could only see enormous summits with huge rock faces, so assumed they were joking and ignored them. Andy has since confirmed, however, that one of the most ominous-looking is indeed Lobouje. It looks pretty terrifying from what we’ve seen so far, with a huge south face of rock and snow. Several of us have asked Andy about the route, assuming it’s somewhere we haven’t seen yet, like up a nice grassy slope round the back, but it isn’t – it’s straight up the south face.

The summit of Lobouje East, at 6,119m, is 46m lower than Lobouje West, but is a much more common objective as Lobouje West is a considerably harder climb and requires a much more expensive permit. Before the trip, I hadn’t realised that we weren’t going for the main summit, so was slightly surprised to hear that, then was even more surprised to learn that most expeditions don’t even get as far as Lobouje East. At the end of the ridge there is a false summit, which is where most trips stop, as the route to the summit is often too dangerous – Andy had been there in May when there was a massive crevasse blocking the route.

It seems a bit strange having an objective that isn’t the real summit, and not expecting to even make that. Island Peak was much simpler: the objective was just to get to the top. It’ll be great if we reach the summit of Lobouje East, but I’m going to be a bit disappointed if we’re stopped by a crevasse at the false summit.

Having crossed into the new valley, we’ve got a whole new selection of mountains to look at and poor old Ama Dablam, centre of attention for the trip so far, is being ignored. Lobouje is one of the most daunting peaks we can see at the moment and Pumori, which has just appeared round the corner, also looks pretty impressive.

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